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Rumble on visitors’ bench raises Scott Arniel’s ire as Wolves lose to IceHogs 2-1

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The Wolves admitted they didn’t play their best against the division-rival Rockford IceHogs on Sunday at Allstate Arena.

But by the end of a 2-1 loss, the Wolves’ focus wasn’t on their play, but on a late-game altercation on the IceHogs’ bench. As a result, Wolves coach Scott Arniel called out the officials and an IceHogs team notorious for taking cheap shots.

With 3.6 seconds remaining, the Wolves’ Guillaume Desbiens put a clean hit on the IceHogs’ Ben Smith, but both players fell into the visitors’ bench because the IceHogs failed to properly close their door. Immediately three players sitting on the bench, most notably Jeremy Morin, punched Desbiens.

Wolves defenseman Jim Vandermeer went into the bench to come to Desbiens’ defense, but he was surrounded by IceHogs that were not involved in the original scuffle. Players involved were assessed a combined 142 penalty minutes.

The IceHogs lead the AHL with 1,495 penalty minutes and 16 game misconducts; the Wolves have 819 penalty minutes and three game misconducts.

After the game, Desbiens’ face was scratched and he appeared to have received a bloody nose.

“I tried to defend myself and kind of lost my cool a little bit,” Desbiens said. “But anybody [who] falls into the bench [and] gets punched, I’m sure would react the same.”

Said Arniel: “We’re sending all that stuff into the league, everything that happened. That hit was clean. We looked at all that stuff. That s--- that went on there, they have a history of it. That’s how guys get seriously hurt. Terribly reffed game, too. Got out of hand.”

The outcome might have been different if the officials been able to better control the action, but the Wolves hurt themselves with four first-period penalties.

The IceHogs’ Martin St. Pierre scored the game’s first goal on a power play at 19:59 that beat the clock after the Wolves had killed the first three penalties.

Wolves defenseman Kevin Connauton tied it when he scored at 8:01 in the second period, but Morin’s power-play goal a little over six minutes later gave the visitors the lead for good.

“Obviously we had a terrible first period,” Desbiens said. ‘We definitely didn’t come out the way we wanted to, but the second and third period I thought we worked hard. We were definitely in the game.”

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